10 minutes of Zen – Here is how
Do we really want to stay in a zen zone?
Relaxation, concentration and awareness are some of the adjectives that encapsulate meditation. All of us have given meditation a shot, and let’s be honest, we were either the “It didn’t work like I hoped it would” or the “It is just not my cup of tea” or the “It was too boring, and I cannot sit still” or the “I gave up” person, but most of us are the, “I really don’t have the time” person.
I guess the issue involved with this mental exercise is that when we start to meditate, the question that we ask is not How should I meditate or for how long I should meditate, it is more to do with, how much or how little can I meditate to see the results and get the benefits. The irony is that everyone is busy, but they still really want to meditate, and we all know this “I don’t the time” excuse is false and frankly very lame, but we use the statement quite unapologetically.
A lot of people think that meditation is a very millennial thing, or very New Age-y or way too boring, and I completely understand why. It is really hard to wrap your head around the fact the meditation can solve the problems in your head. And meditation isn’t something that you generally look forward to if you are beginner. It doesn’t feel all warm and exciting to calm down, it is more like a feeling of letting yourself go through this mild, self-inflicted torture. Relatable, because I am not used to sitting still either.
But if you have been experiencing feelings of irritability, annoyance, restlessness, poor sleep, anxiety and if you feel your mind is scattered or noisy, meditation might be something that can help you, maybe not completely, but it lets you stay at least a little balanced and focused and just calm on the whole.
Keep in mind that I am not implying that only if you show these symptoms you need to meditate. These facts are things that you have already heard, and possibly believe, because everyone talks about the benefits of meditating, and we tend to judge these seemingly perfect people who have indulged in the meditating lifestyle. Yes, I agree that taking mindfulness classes are unbelievably expensive (plus “you don’t have the time”) but you don’t have to do that. Taking out 10 minutes out of your day doesn’t seem like a big stretch.
How do you meditate?
Now, how do you meditate, and where do you even start? Here is where meditation apps come into the picture. There are mixed reviews when it comes down to these applications.
This is what you refer to as ‘Digital stress reduction’. Why go to a class when you can use your smartphone to do the same. This sounds a little counter intuitive because your smartphone sometimes is the root cause of your stress. A lot of studies say that meditations apps can be a good starting point for beginner meditators, as (a) it can help build up the habit through the regular notifications (b) these apps include guided meditation – that is exactly what amateur meditators require and (c) unrelated point, but amateur meditators is quite cool name in my opinion.
I get that it is hard to try new things, but meditation apps are an excellent place to begin. It can help casual app users become long term mindfulness followers. These guided, easy to use, simple audio apps are useful. These are not replacements for therapy sessions or meditating classes, because in meditating classes you are surrounded by people who may have stories similar to yours and you don’t feel alone. Plus, a first person interaction with a real person and not just an imaginary voice can be reassuring. But these apps, like I said are a place to initiate this process, and integrate this mental exercise into your life. Calming down is a challenge for this generation and mindful observing is something that we need to work on – focusing on what is occurring inside and outside of us without getting completely wrapped up in what we are observing. Being talked through a breathing exercise is actually a form of relaxation training and helps to release tension from the body.
But remember that even with these apps, mindfulness and clarity of mind takes practice, and it is very much like playing an instrument. The more time you spend on it, the more you get out of it. It is not a chore, and it is not a recreational activity either. It is meant to be a habit; something so integrated into your life, that it becomes normal. It might be scary at first, as your mind may wander to some dark places, and that is normal, but with time and practice you will learn that this process helps you to be aware of your emotions, keep in touch with what you are feeling and channelize your thoughts. Understanding, thinking, feeling, resolving – is a simple process to keep in mind.
Here are a couple of apps you can try. Try out everything, and you can decide which apps suits you best.
Headspace includes guided meditations that include alleviating stress, it helps you to sleep, focus on anxiety and it also has SOS exercises in case of sudden meltdowns. It also has meditations on boosting compassionate behavior towards others. Not to mention the extremely soothing voice of the person who takes you through these meditations.
It focuses on reducing stress and stay in a healthier state of mind. It shows you how to start out while meditating and feel better about yourself, and it highlights the importance of being mentally present in your daily life. It also has sleep sounds and stories, which help you go to bed in a relaxed state of mind.
Calm includes guided lessons on meditations, getting restful sleep and waking up bright and refreshed, lessons on the body – which includes stretching movements and music which calms you down. New music is added on a weekly basis and there are different tracks for relaxation and sleep.